Missed this from Friday: The Iowa Supreme Court threw out a rule by that state’s Board of Medicine that would have barred doctors from dispensing abortion-inducing drugs to patients remotely through a two-way video connection.
The rule was created in 2013 but was placed on hold as Planned Parenthood of the Heartland — which operates seven clinics in rural Iowa where telemedicine abortions are sometimes performed — appealed a lower court’s decision upholding the rule.
Arkansas passed a preemptive law this spring prohibiting telemedicine abortions, even though such procedures aren’t practiced anywhere in the state. Abortions by telemedicine are currently performed in only one state besides Iowa. But because access to abortion for women in rural areas is so limited — and growing more so, in part because of state laws aimed at restricting clinics — the practice may indeed spread to other states.
The Iowa Supreme Court rejected the Board of Medicine’s claim that telemedicine abortions were inherently unsafe. Here’s the Dubuque Telegraph Herald:
The court agreed with Planned Parenthood’s argument that the rule would have placed an unconstitutional burden on women by requiring a doctor’s physical presence in the room.
“Because the Board agrees the Iowa Constitution protects a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy to the same extent as the United States Constitution, we find the rule violates the Iowa Constitution,” the justices wrote.
They found that since the medical board has approved telemedicine for other medical procedures without a doctor’s presence, “the board appears to hold abortion to a different medical standard than other procedures.”
The board has denied that the rule was politically motivated. Its executive director, Mark Bowden, said the board adopted the rule because it believes dispensing abortion drugs without a doctor present is an unsafe medical practice, “not to place an undue burden on women who choose to terminate their pregnancies.”